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Continuity of Congress in the Wake of COVID-19

Congressional experts call for emergency, remote legislative operations

With a senator and two House members now testing positive for the novel coronavirus, calls for Congress to shift to emergency, remote work are escalating.

A group of congressional experts gathered (virtually, of course) last week to talk through how lawmakers could ensure continuity of the legislative branch while protecting the health of lawmakers.

Guest speakers included two experts on continuity of government: Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and John Fortier, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Democracy Project.

The discussion was hosted by Daniel Schuman of Demand Progress, Marci Harris of Popvox Inc. and Lorelei Kelley of Georgetown's Beeck Center. Schuman and Harris recently wrote an op-ed for The Fulcrum calling on Congress to change the rules to allow the chambers to conduct business — including voting — online in times of emergency.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Mitch McConnell have so far rejected colleagues' calls to permit them to vote from home until the pandemic is under control.

Watch the full video above or read more in First Branch Forecast.

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